Social media this, social media that ... of all the topics that are being discussed in the business world today, perhaps the “hottest” one at the moment is social media. Unless you have just woken up from a 10-year-old dream, I probably do not need to mention that “social media” refers to those websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
The root of the word “social” is soci, which also forms the word “society.” Thus, in the simplest sense, social media sites are those which enable individuals to connect with the society around them. But businesses have also come to realize that they too can connect with thousands, if not millions, of potential clients simply by using social media.
There are dozens, perhaps even hundreds of tips that you can find in various places online, but as a fellow entrepreneur, I know that your time is precious. Therefore, in this article, I would like to share the most fundamental tips regarding social media use. Here are 3 concrete tips that you can use for your project.
1. Let other users promote your business
One of the most attractive features of social media for businesses is that it is a very low-cost method for marketing. Perhaps even more attractive is the possibility of your content going “viral.” Even though you may not have a big contact list, you can reach millions if just a few of your contacts share your content with their contacts, who in turn share it with their contacts, and so on. Therefore, a good strategy is to think of ways to get your content in front of as many people as possible.
I would like to share 3 specific methods for achieving this that work excellent for us.
First, use Facebook pages and groups to your advantage. Facebook groups are created to provide specific information to a specific group of people.There are probably several groups out there that are full of people that fit the profile of your potential clients. Join the group and you can share content that is valuable to its members.
For example, if you have a tool for children’s education, groups geared towards parenting would be strategic to join. Or suppose you are an accountant with an expertise in individual tax laws for those living overseas. By joining groups such as the Buenos Aires Expat Hub, you will be able to interact with people who could be in need of the services you offer. You can point people to your website, offer something of value such as sharing an e-book or let people know about a live webinar that you will be hosting. The number of groups and ways you could use them to your advantage are limitless.
Secondly, you can use games and giveaways to promote your business. One of the leaders in this area has been Dropbox. Before the social media boom, they realized that giving people an incentive (extra space) for referring a friend via email was an excellent way to gain new clients. They have continued using this concept with social media:
Start thinking of valuable resources that you could give away. In the contest, be clear regarding what your followers must do to enter, the deadline, and then be sure to announce clearly the winner. Having your followers comment, tag a friend, or share a post to be eligible to win is a good way to get your company’s name out to a mass of people.
Finally, one that I have seen being used more and more recently, is to find what is known as brand “ambassadors.” There may be key people (people with lots of followers on social media) who are using your product. Talk with them about the possibility of sharing a picture posted on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter showing them using it, with a brief comment recommending it to others. Obviously, a recommendation from someone who is a point of reference can go a long way. According to a story by McKinsey & Company, “word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.”
With each passing day, I see more and more companies publicly seeking brand representatives directly on their website, such as this example by kid’s clothing store Jump Around:
If you want some specific tips regarding how to find influencers on Instagram, I recommend you start with this brief article posted by Hootsuite.
2. Nature of the posts
Here I want to share with you some simple tips and strategies for your regular posts.
- Be consistent:
Don’t wait weeks or months between posts, the idea is to regularly engage your audience with fresh content. This is why I recommend starting out by using just 1 to 3 social media sites, so you can stay on top of them.
- Post more than once:
Don’t be afraid to post the same content more than once. However, keep in mind an important warning from Kissmetrics: when you share your content multiple times, be sure to change the title of the post to avoid boredom, spam, and repetition. For example, if you have written a blog article about saving for retirement you could share it several times using these different titles:
“Don’t forget about these tips when saving for your personal retirement.”
“Unsure if you are on the right track with your retirement plan?”
“75% of investors make these sound decisions for their retirement account.”
- Publish at the right times:
You probably are smart enough to know that posting at 3 am on Saturday night is not the best time to engage your audience. But when is the best time to post? Fortunately, the folks at Hubspot have put together a handy infographic that shows the best posting times on various media sites.
- Images and videos work best!:
Research has shown that images/videos are shared much more than plain text. A suggestion here is to set aside some time to pick several images at a time for your upcoming campaigns and posts, then, once you have used them all you can search again. Depositphotos is one of the many sites that offer quality photos with a broad searchable database that we use frequently.
- Interact with your followers:
Perhaps this is the most time-consuming part involved with social media. By putting your product out into the world, you are also providing others with an open invitation to comment and ask questions regarding your service. These should be answered in a professional, timely manner. Even the bad reviews or comments should be answered in a positive way.
3. Start strong
I cannot stress enough the importance of getting off to a good start in your social media campaigns. Perhaps you are not using social media and you are asking yourself how you should start. My answer is: wisely, with a good strategy. Too many businesses fail to get the most out of their accounts because they did not take the time to set out a strategy.
The first thing you need to think is the profile of your clients. Ask yourself: Are they individuals or businesses? Do they live in certain areas? What do they do in their free time? What causes do they care about? Are they millennials? etc. The more characteristics you can think of, the better. Content that is specific and appealing to a group of people with specific characteristics has been shown to be much more successful than generalized posts.
Next, consider your company’s goals and culture. For instance, if your culture is conservative and more serious, then creating social media pages and content that uses humor or silly tactics may cause confusion and prove to be detrimental to your brand name.
Based on your research and time thinking about those areas, you will be able to decide on the most effective tools for your company. As an example, if you are a business marketing to other businesses, LinkedIn may be a better choice for you than Instagram or Pinterest. I recommend starting out with 2 or at the most 3 of these tools, starting too many at once will just complicate things.
Now that you have decided on which sites you will use, it is to your advantage to set them up as professionally as possible. This means that you should not just provide all of the required information but try to fill out as many fields as possible. Most sites require the use of photos: profile pictures, headers, background, etc. These photos should have a professional quality and be “branded” with your logo, or other graphics and information that identifies your company.
Red Bull knows how to do this perfectly with amazing videos:
Finally, before you officially launch, create a few posts so that content there and available. For someone who is interested in your company, there can be nothing more deflating than having them arrive only to find that there is nothing of value there for them.
Always remember to focus your efforts on delivering value in every single post.
Put these tips into action today in order to start growing your brand value, create more contacts and leads, and increase your sales and revenue. Still not convinced that using social media could be an important game-changer for your company? Consider this fact: 15.8% of all time spent on the internet is spent on Facebook alone. There are millions of social media users who could potentially buy and use your product. Use social media to reach them, if you don’t your competition will.
Cristian Rennella, Computer Engineer and Co-founder of Empréstimos Brasil. Recently he has been serving as Artificial Intelligence (Deep Learning) ambassador in South America. Professor at National University of Córdoba.